Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Reflections from Philadelphia Press Conference


My name is Michael McConnell, Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee from Chicago. On behalf of AFSC and the military families present today, I welcome you to this memorial to the Iraq War dead, the deadliest war for the United States since Vietnam.

When we began this memorial in Chicago in January there were 504 U.S. soldiers who had been killed. Five months later 860 are dead.

We are here today to remember those 860 U.S. soldiers who have given, what Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg called "the last full measure of devotion." This is a tremendous loss as it took this nation over four years in Vietnam before reaching that level of deaths. 860 pairs of empty combat boots, each tagged with the name of a fallen soldier, represents the tragic and unnecessary loss that this nation has suffered in Iraq.

We also remember the Iraqi civilians killed in the war, represented by this 24-foot long wall inscribed with the names or incidents of death of nearly 10,000 people and the 1,000 pairs of shoes representing 1/16th of their loss. Their ages range from an unnamed baby in the womb to Mulkiyya Jabir, 87 years old. Those deaths are over three times the loss of this nation on September 11, 2001, in a country one twelfth the size of the U.S.

We publicly display their names because the more the American people see the Iraqis as individuals, the harder it will be to continue to kill them.

The granite and marble war memorials of this nation honor the dead decades after the war has ended. In contrast this is a living witness that commemorates each death as it happens, memorializing a war while we still have a chance to stop it.

The thousands of deaths represented here today is too high a price to pay for an illegal and unnecessary war.

As we place the name, rank, age and home state of the fallen soldiers on these boots, they become like sacred objects. Each pair reminds us never to allow the casualty count to be a mere statistic, but rather to remember each death as a tragedy.

This pair has no tag. [Holds up pair of boots] Whose name will we have to put on this pair tomorrow? Whose family will be swamped in grief tomorrow? When will this carnage end?

6 Comments:

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Ron Green said...

War is an ugly and brutal affair. The cost is always human life. The question is what is a human life worth, its priceless. What could be more valuable than a human life, the only answer I have found is two, three, four, or more human lives. The atrocities committed by the former government of Iraq are well documented; the last report I read speaks of almost 200,000 people that vanished. 1000's killed in single military operations against civilians. Is the war unnecessary? 10-20 will now live for each that dies.
Please tell me, everyone, if you know how to stop militants without military force. The world would like to know.
I will try an analogy closer to home: If a criminal is breaking into your house with a gun should the police walk away so they don’t have to kill the intruder. If they leave then they don’t have to kill anyone, risk being killed, or risk a coworker (friend) being killed; the only cost is only the strangers in the house.
No the officers of the law and the soldiers of the military, by choosing their jobs, (they are all free to choose to serve or not), state that they are willing to die to save others. Thank you for your willingness to sacrifice for the good of the many at the cost of the good of the few. The intent is not to die, but it comes with the job.
If the military operations taken by the government require a draft, my views might be different, but everyone serving is there by choice. I chose to serve, I would have traded my life to save 10. That is a hero, not something that is unnecessary.
I’m off my soapbox, I hope for peace and our troops to come home, I would consider it a tragedy though if we pull out and save a few 100 lives and the cost is a few 1000 lives. I agree with your view that all lives; Iraqi and U.S. are of equal value.

 
At 8:44 AM, Blogger Eyes Wide Open said...

Unfortunately we have been taught that violence seems like the only answer. In fact, war has become futile as a way to curb violence. WWI should never have happened. It was a total failure of diplomacy. Ten million died and twenty million were wounded. It was not the "war to end all wars" but rather the war that spawned the the bloodiest century in the history of humankind.

WWI created the conditions that gave rise to WWII. Hitler could not have succeeded in Germany without the humiliation and decimation of that country in WWI and its aftermath.

The Iraq War was a war of choice, fought not to liberate Iraq for its people but to liberate the oilfields so that the United States could get its hands on the spigot. Controlling the flow of oil to the rest of the world would give the U.S. overwhelming power.

Anti-Americanism is now at its highest ever. And that has come only three years after the world had given the U.S. its sympathy after 9/11. War is not saving lives, it is the gasoline thrown on the fire that will, unfortunately, only set the world ablaze once again.

 
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At 10:47 PM, Blogger Bill Adams said...

Veteran's Day is November 11th and I hope that EVERY American will be flying the flag in honor of our troops fighting in Iraq and around the world to preserve our freedoms!

I can even tell you where to get one for free! Visit AmericanFlags.com right now and they'll send you a FREE American Flag. These flags were $19.99, but now they are FREE. You pay just for shipping/handling and they'll ship one to your door. (Actually - I've ordered more than 20 from them to give to my neighbors, as gifts, etc!)

Get your free flag now: **FREE AMERICAN FLAG**

Semper Fi!

Bill Adams

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger David Pakman said...

Hey, excellent website. A great Iraq resource is Deaths in Iraq. It breaks all of the casualties down by age, race, branch of the military, country, etc.

 
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